With Filpinos of the North
Many years ago, when we lived in a hamlet in the northern tip of Germany, I got a call from a Filipino who was married to another German. We spoke over the telephone, not in Filipino (the national language). Why did you not speak to her in your national language” my husband asked, quite perplexed.
“She didn’t speak Filipino because she was born and raised in Cebu, a, province in the South. Nor did she speak Ilocano, the language spoken in the North, where I was bor, Our common language was English” I answered.
I grew up speaking three languages; it was not unusual.almost every Filipino speaks more than two languages. Historians archaeologists, linguists and ethnologists have always maintained that the Philippines has eight major languages, nine if one include English which had been the formal language of communication for more than eight decades. There are more than eight dialects. Actually, I maintain that these are languages, not dialects. The Cebuanos, the Visayans, the Bicolanos, Pampanguenos, the Ilocanos, the Pangasinenses ect. Have their own set of vocabularies – distinct from the other.
Within each dialect (or language) are hundreds of variations in intonations and eccentricities depending on which side of the river one grew up on. The Ilocanos from my Father’s home town taunt me because I speak like the Ilocanos from my Mother’s hometown . There is no clear demarcation line between these two towns except for the way the people speak.
Archaeologists and anthropologists write that thousands of years before the Philippines became known to the western world, countless documents and records of a pre- existing language existed. The Spanish conquistadores burned and obliterated any written material that they could find in the Island. How ever , some were left hidden, untouched and eventually unearthed in the Tabon caves in Palawan-proof of the contention that there was civilized written history before the Spanish colonization in the 1500s.
There, in the Tabon caves, among the shards of pottery; jewelry of gold and jade; implements of bronze, metal, china and porcelain; clothes and silk and brocade, were plates with some writings on them, scrolls with the old alphabet that closely resembled the Sanskrit language.
Zoom to hundreds of years later and we now have the present colloquial spoken word in Philippines; Taglish, Tagspanglish- an intergrationof Tagalog, Spanish and English. The following new dish names demonstrate the Filipinos natural ability to invent in order to adapt and to cohere. Tapsilog is a breakfast combination of Tapa( a dried beef of marinated sirloin). Sinangag ( fried rice with garlic) and itlog (eggs); or Longsilog ( for Longganiza or sausages) instead of the Tapa.
Merienda and dining sidewalk and road side booths serve” Fried Adidas” ( fried chicken feet) “ Walkman” (pig’s ears) ect. Throughout the day and night. The variety and the spontaneity of new language, in this case with name of food, reflect the resourcefulness, playfulness, childlike reverence, and the multiple cultural and ethnic background of the Filipino.